There is no way to pigeon-hole the country of the Czech Republic. Many of you might've grown-up knowing it as Czechoslovakia throughout the Cold War years, and now that its open to just about everyone, you can simply call it the "Best Country in Europe".
The splendor that is the Czech Republic goes beyond its captial city of Prague. Places like Cesky Krumlov with its medieval streets, and Olomouc with its September Harvest Festival are also "must-sees and dos" in the country.
However, if all you get to see is Prague, consider yourself lucky. The dominating castle is one of the biggest in Europe, and its a city of outdoor cafes, graceful lawns, and friendly people.
Prague once had a vibrant Jewish community, and its Jewish Quarter is once again going strong. Here's your chance to visit a few historic synagogues along the way.
This magnificent city is full of Gothic and Baroque architecture, and its medieval St. Charles Bridge is full of artists painting and drawing its unique design. How has this bridge stood for centuries? The eggshells and wine used in the mortar.
Of course, if you want something different then check out the Seldec Ossuary made entirely with the bones of some 40,000 people, right down to its chandelier and Coat of Arms.
Morbid? Perhaps, but still a site to behold.
One stop in the Czech Republic that can be a bit hard to see is Terezin, a town once home to a Nazi Concentration Camp. The Ghetto Museum tells the story of this "model" camp, as if the mass graves don't do that for you.
If it's too much for you, head to Kutna Hora, a UNESCO town with an old silver mine and Cathedral. Or, the spa town of Karlovy Vary with its hot and mineral springs that has attracted royal guests for years.
Hiking through the Czech Republic is spectacular, especially if you're near the Austrian border in a National Park filled with lakes, streams, and forest.
Shopping is as delightful as any other activity, especially if you're looking for Bohemian Crystal, amber, and lace. Afterwards take in a theater, ballet, or opera performance. Mozart premiered Don Giovanni here in Prague back in the 1780s, so they know how to do it right.
Afterwards head to a cafe for a beer, wine, or brandy. Locally made, of course. The Czech Republic's food is influenced by Hungarian and Austrian cuisine; and a word of caution--sometimes English menus will have higher prices than ones written in Czech or German.
Want a little more action? than trying to save a few Euro on breakfast? Try rock climbing, skiing, fishing, canoeing, and cycling around its 78,000 square kilometers, seeing exactly why the Czech Republic is the best country on the continent.
It's quite convenient in Europe to get to, borderd by some four countries (Germany, Poland, Austria, and the Slovak Republic). Trains from international destinations will get you here quickly; and its good network of roads, trains (many with express service to resort towns) make getting around within the country easy enough--even if you don't speak Czech, the official language. A smattering of German will suffice enough, and English is spoken by a good number of its 10 million people to get you by.
The hardest part of a European vacation isn't where to go--that's simple, the Czech Republic. The hardest part is picking where to spend the most time in the country.
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